It was four o’clock in the afternoon of August 18. Pelagio Ado, a local traffic enforcer at the local government unit of South Upi in Maguindanao, was on his way home after remitting traffic violators’ fines to his supervisor.
On that afternoon, 51-year-old Ado met a road accident on his motorcycle. He was rushed to Datu Blah District Hospital in Nuro Upi, and was diagnosed with femoral neck fracture on his left hip.
When he was told he needed to undergo an orthopedic implant surgery worth P125,000.00, Ado felt hopeless, troubled on where to get such amount.
Fortunately, the LGU where he works donated a sum of 75,000 pesos. His only worry then was the remaining P50,000.00.
“Wala po kaming matakbuhan. Mahirap talaga ang buhay namin. Hindi ko po kaya ang ganun kalaking bayarin dahil ito lang ang trabaho ko, maliit lang ang sahod ko,” said Ado, who is a member of the indigenous community.[We have nowhere to go. Life is really hard for us. I can’t afford such hospital bill because I only have one job with low salary.]
It was Dr. Michael Macion, chief of Datu Blah District Hospital, who told Ado about the regional government’s AMBAG (Ayudang Medikal Mula sa Bangsamoro Government) program.
“Sinabi ni Dr. Macion na ipaabot natin ito sa AMBAG ng Bangsamoro kasi ito lang talaga ang pwedeng makatulong sa ganung halaga,” he recalled.[Dr. Macion said we should ask assistance from Bangsamoro’s AMBAG program because it is only them who could help us with such amount of hospital bill.]
AMBAG program released a total fund of P50,000.00 to complete Ado’s hospital bills.
“Maraming maraming salamat po sa AMBAG ng Bangsamoro dahil kung hindi po dahil dito siguro ay doon na ako mahulog sa kamatayan kasi sa ganung halaga ay talagang hindi namin kaya,” Ado said.[Thank you so much to Bangsamoro’s AMBAG program, if it wasn’t because of it, I might fall to death as we really can’t pay my hospital bill.]
“Pinaalam ko talaga sa kanila (kamag-anak) ang tungkol sa AMBAG dahil siguradong makakaasa sila dito. Alam na namin kung saan kami pupunta para sa madaling makatulong sa amin,” Ado shared.[I really informed my relatives about AMBAG because they can definitely count on it. Now we know where to go when seeking immediate assistance.]
According to Dr. Macion, “Malaki po ang naitutulong ng AMBAG especially sa mga indigenous people or sa mga pasyente na talagang walang pantustos sa kalusugan.”[AMBAG is really a big help especially to the indigenous people and to patients who can’t afford healthcare.]
“Simula noong mabigyan ang aming hospital ng ganitong programa ay marami nang pasyente ang nagkaroon ng benepisyo. Malaking tulong ito sa kanila para maibsan ang kakapusan nila sa mga bayarin sa hospital,” he said.[Since our hospital was given this program, many of our patients have already benefited. It helped them cover their hospital bills.]
Dr. Romeo Montañer share the sentiments similar to those of Macion.
“Ang dami naming pasyenteng natulungan [We have helped a lot of patients], in fact as of this time, about 50% of our in-patients were assisted by the AMBAG program,” said Montañer, chief of Dr. Serapio B. Montaner Jr., Al Haj Memorial Hospital located in Malabang, Lanao del Sur.
“AMBAG is really very helpful. Maraming natutuwang mga tao and in their hearts they are really very thankful. Makikita nila yung gaano ka responsive ang BARMM ngayon,” Montañer said.[Many people are pleased and in their hearts they are really very thankful. They can see how responsive BARMM is now.]
(Read more: Patients in need receive medical aid from AMBAG)
For Marites Regaro, 49, an AMBAG beneficiary from Montañer Memorial Hospital, access to medical treatment is easier now.
“Nagpapasalamat kami kay chief minister kasi dahil sa programa niya ay di na kami nahihirapan magpagamot sa mga pasyente namin, hindi kami takot magpunta sa hospital,” Regaro said.[We are grateful to the chief minister that because of his program, we are no longer afraid of sending our patients to the hospital for treatment.]
“Wala kaming pera, pero ngayon okay lang kahit anong oras ka magpunta sa hospital kasi may AMBAG na tumutulong,” she added.[We have no money, but we are now confident of going to the hospital at any time because we know AMBAG will help us.]
The Office of the Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim established the AMBAG, a medical assistance program intended to enhance access to healthcare services and help Bangsamoro constituents avail needed medicines, medical procedures, and health services.
AMBAG is a measure in paying for medication and medical services not currently paid for or sufficiently reimbursed by PhilHealth or other financing sources. (Bureau of Public Information)